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SCW returns to familiar site in state title chase

Almost everything about Sanborn Central/Woonsocket's return appearance to the Class B state basketball tournament will feel familiar. Many of the team's players have been in the state tournament before and they've played countless games at the Hu...

Sanborn Central/Woonsocket's Kayla Olson takes a shot during a prep girls basketball game earlier this year in Forestburg. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Sanborn Central/Woonsocket's Kayla Olson takes a shot during a prep girls basketball game earlier this year in Forestburg. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Almost everything about Sanborn Central/Woonsocket's return appearance to the Class B state basketball tournament will feel familiar.

Many of the team's players have been in the state tournament before and they've played countless games at the Huron Arena in conference, district, region and state play.

From there, SCW will try to deliver a different finish.

The 22-1 Blackhawks are making their fifth state appearance in the last six seasons and hoping to improve on their third-place finish at the 2016 state tournament. That drive will start for fifth-seeded SCW with a quarterfinal matchup with fourth-seeded New Underwood at 1:45 p.m. today at the Huron Arena.

"You hope that all the experience helps," SCW co-head coach Tim McCain said. "It's not a new feeling going in for us and we've got a bunch of kids that have played in some big games. We played there last year and hopefully we have a feel for the game at the state tournament."

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The Blackhawks average 61 points per game and hold opponents to 34.6 points per contest.

McCain said a key in the tournament will be the Blackhawks using their transition game to keep opponents off pace.

"We like to get up and down the floor," he said. "We're athletic and we have kids that can get us going in transition. We're not going to get away from what we've been doing all year, so that's an emphasis for us."

SCW is paced by one of the state's best players in senior Myah Selland. Selland, who scored nearly 20 points per game in the regular season, shot 53 percent and was an 80 percent free-throw shooter. She also led the team in assists (102), steals (84) and rebounds per game (7.7). Megan Poyer averages 9.7 points per game, while Abby Doering scored a 9.3 points per game clip during the regular season and Kayla Olson and Tristan Ziebart each averaged six points per game.

Blackhawks co-head coach Rob Baruth said the team wants to enjoy the state tournament while focusing on a goal of bringing home the first state championship for the Blackhawk girls.

"We're there for business and to reach our goals but you also want to enjoy the state tournament," Baruth said. "You don't get there every year and you never know when you're going to have that chance again. The good thing is that we've been there and we're prepared."

Winners of the last 18 games, New Underwood (22-1) averages 52.5 points per game, shooting 58 percent at the free-throw line and fires at 45 percent on field-goal tries. Center Brianna Philipsen averages 16 points and nine rebounds a game, shooting 59 percent.

"They're a big and athletic team," Baruth said. "They've got a good mix of veterans and youth and they score a lot of points in the paint. We're going to have to defend the hoop and we definitely have a lot to account for."

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Baruth noted the strong seasons for almost every team in the state tournament. There are six teams - Warner, Sully Buttes, Ethan, New Underwood, SCW and Avon - that have at least 21 wins and no more than two losses.

"We're a fifth seed at 22-1," Baruth said. "You look at the top five seeds and there's a total of six losses. Avon is really good at 21-2. Everyone has been tested and everyone is going to give each team they face in the tournament a real battle."

SCW defeated the tournament's top seed Warner in Redfield on Jan. 7 55-43 and took their only loss of the season at the hands of Ethan Jan. 30 62-29 in Forestburg.

Related Topics: LETCHERWOONSOCKETFORESTBURG
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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